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The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Brasilia: Architecture, Politics and Society in Brasilia Paperback – 8 Sep 1989

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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More important than ever 15 Aug. 2002
By El Cholo Invisivel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Now that Neo-modernism has become the prevailing architectural fad, this book is more important than ever. It's important for up and coming young architects to get past form, learn about the negative effects of Modernist architecture on people and try to improve upon the mistakes of the past instead of just blindly copying them. Many people worship Niemeyer (deservedly so) but he made some serious errors during the design of this city, despite how beautiful the buildings are. As Holston points out a lot of blame also goes to Costa, the totalitarian minded planner who decided among other things to not build any sidewalks. Holston does a good job of documenting the contradictory treatment the government gave the workers who built Brasilia- from national heros during the construction to unemployed outcasts, banished to shantytowns dozens of kilometers from the city afterwards. No, this is not a complete work on the entire history of Brasilia, nor does Holston pretend that it is. It is one of the best critiques of the heavy-handed nature of modernist planning and architecture since Jane Jacobs. For Holston, Brasilia is the perfect case study. Brasilia is a fascinating, paradox-ridden city and this is a fascinating book. Holston's basically negative critique could be complimented with an orthodox modernist work (Radient City, or something about Niemeyer) to give newcomers to the world of modernist architecture a more balanced picture.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very incomplete lecture about Brasília 4 July 2001
By Frederico F. P. Barreto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
That book does a poor job in order to make the circumstances of the project and the construction of Brasília clear to the interested scholar - and to the general reader. Holston does the most complete reification of a modernist ideology embodied in Brasília, and treats it in an ideological way. That's a serious mistake. In spite of that, the mythological creation of the city by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer is very impressively described, and that description can itself be called a classic of our times (in that special issue and in that kind of literature), because it is a craving and iconoclastic criticism of the way that Brazilian urbanistic modernism achieved an almost Olympian turning point in the 1950's. But the author missed the city almost completely. His book is about architects and ideologies, it is not about a modernist but real city. AFTER the project, after the celebrated euphoria of the conception of the city, the process of its very occupation and its continued construction (until our days) is categorically ignored. A hint of that must had to be done. The reader and the architects are put in a cloud and we can remember Aristophanes. So, you, reader, have to take only the Holston's interpretation in order to suppose what happened AFTER in the city's "planned" evolution. And that order of suppositions can be very misleading. The "socialist", egalitarian dreams affirmed by those architects about their plans for the city were reenacted many times after, with different degrees of success and failure. That initially promising anthropological study lost an excellent opportunity to delve us in the necessary reflection about modernist fallacies - and virtues - by studying what really happened in the 40 years after the creational discourse of Brasília (or at least a sketch of that...). As that modernist propaganda and sophistry it denounces, just the surface of the extraordinaire phenomenon of the Brasília's episode was exposed. Take care with the clouds, reader.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Print-on-demand edition 28 May 2015
By W. Boning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a compelling indictment of modernist architecture and planning, looking at the political visions and realities of the development of Brasilia. However, it was sent as a poor-quality print-on-demand edition, which was not made clear in the product page. Please make sure the edition you are receiving is an authentic publication before purchase.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Modernist City in Review 17 Nov. 2001
By Mr. James Alayande - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read James Holston's book in graduate school and the book
provides both an academic and professional exposition
on Brasilia. The evolution of the city, its history, architecture
and the city's sociology of development over a few decades are
highlighted. In almost 400 pages, it is a lot. Of course
the book could go on and on and please every reader, but
that would not be necessary. The book provides adequate
information for most readers on many facets of the city's
development. It certainly was recommended to me by a good professor,
and it meets my standard as a city planner. Adequate pictures. Great book.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Material is interesting, but a bit too technical for the average reader 14 Jun. 2011
By L. Riley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a class. The topic of Brasilia to me is one that is fascinating and it was great to read the history of this, but for me it was made more complex than was necessary. This could have been a very fun read, but instead if was weighed down by technical margin and in depth politics.
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